Friday, March 5, 2010

Livening up a very bored 6th grade elementary class

6th grade elementary kids- the bane of my year! It took me a while (well nearly a year) to figure them out. You see these kids have totally outgrown elementary/primary school They're aged 11 and 12, have lost their genkiness, have developed a bit of attittude, don't want to volunteer for anything in class or be shown up in front of their class buddies or even be seen to be trying hard. The boys have even got stubble (well some) and the girls hairy legs (sorry but its true!). Basically they're growing up...

So faced with a class of 40 x 11 and 12 year olds who are half falling asleep its a pretty difficult challenge trying to get them interested! One of the things I have recently started doing (thanks to my friend Kari for the suggestion) is playing a game called "crossfire" (also known as crisscross or rows & columns game) It's a simple review game and always guarantees they'll enjoy it whilst reviewing past subjects. It can take 5 mins (if you hurry them), no moving of tables or pupils, they just stand up. See below for rules*

It's such a fun game and I always try and spice it up a bit by showing them revolting food (from genki English website- i.e worm ice cream, snake salad) and asking them "Do you like snake salad?"

I have learnt that 6th graders don't really respond well to manic racing games (although sometimes I have played them and they work, ie the soldiers & ninjas game- look at Genki English site) They like to be creative and think for themselves. I try and apply real life to much of the target language they learn. For example, lesson 5 is directions so we had the pupils draw a map of Oyabe City (which is really small so like a town) and then direct me to their favourite places in town such as the video game shop or the park. If your town is too big you could make a map of the school and have pupils direct you to places.

Also for birthdays, we had the pupils interview each other and work out what their star sign is. If you have time you could even have the teacher give them their star sign forecasts for the year (make it positive of course!) Trust me they're interested in this sort of thing at this age.

I also had the 6th graders form a band to practice "Can you play....?" a few lucky pupils were the band managers and had to form a band. They loved naming their band and had a lot of fun.

So if you're a new ALT faced with a class of 6th graders at elementary, I hope this helps a bit!
* Crossfire can be played many ways. Either the whole class stands up or it can be played in rows.
Either use questions (how old are you?, when is your birthday? etc) or flashcards. Flashcards make the game go much quicker, increasing the level of energy.

I play with all students standing up. I either ask a question or flash a card. The first student to raise his hand and say the English word for the picture card or answer the question can choose to either have the pupils standing in his/her horizontal row or vertical column to sit down (technically "saving" their friends). Keep going until one student or a row/column is left standing. I sometimes feel bad having only one student left standing so usually ask the last few people standing a question they can answer together.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jessica,

    Regarding Crossfire or "criss cross", there seems to be a variation of the game. I actually taught the following method to my BOE in 2003 which could be useful here:

    - Select a row of students to stand (you can play rock/paper/scissors or jan-ken-pon to decide a row)
    - Ask questions, students who answers correctly sits down, remaining students stay standing
    - Keep going until there are 2 students left, get them to play R/P/S until there's a winner and he/she sits down
    - The one standing must ask his/her row/column to stand up
    - Continue to ask questions
    - Always give the last person in the previous game a chance to answer the first few questions in the next game

    I find this to be a little less embarrassing for the last student remaining, sometimes you can ask the winner (or loser) of the last 2 to select a row or column. The game R/P/S is a game of chance, so kids understand that it has nothing to do with ability but playground luck. Some kids are not as confident as others when it comes to studying so they are very very self conscious. Hope that helps!